Why I Majored in Science, Technology and Society

Shelsy Zarate ’24

In high school, I decided that pre-med was not for me. Although super interesting and important, STEM courses did not help me think about how that knowledge fit into the societies and cultures we live in. I specifically wanted to explore the realm of public health and learn about how medical services and technology could be made more accessible to low-income, immigrant, communities of color. Thus, I came into college knowing that I wanted to study STS because of its interdisciplinary approach to knowledge-making, scientific development, and policy. What I did not know, however, was that STS would equip me with the skillset to not just think critically in my future career, but to think critically in my day-to-day life.

As a first-generation, child of immigrants, my favorite STS classes were the ones that explored how my difficult experiences navigating the U.S. healthcare system were related historically and politically to those of marginalized populations all over the world (i.e., Science, Medicine, and Colonialism). Many of these classes utilized case studies to teach STS theories and methods, and I personally believe that the tangibility of STS in multiple disciplines has helped me learn much more than I anticipated I would coming into college.

The beauty of STS is that it introduces students to interests within and outside of STEM fields that they might have not realized inspired them as much as they do. For example, STS introduced me to how cultural conditions shape medical hierarchies, which encouraged me to take a Medical Anthropology class during my time abroad in Yucatán, México. At the same time, the major provides students with the flexibility to dive as shallow or as deep into STEM fields as they desire. As I hopefully go into a Master of Public Health program next year, I am confident that the interdisciplinary education STS provided me with—which is the epitome of the Pomona liberal arts experience—will guide me in every step of my future career.